Beheadings in the Third Reich

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Paul53
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 03 Mar 2009 08:29

[quote="Pete26"]It would be interesting to know if the Stadelheim fallbeil was modified at some point by removing the hinged board with the straps, replacing the bench top, substituting a metal basin for the cloth bucket, and perhaps adding a blade shield. Which was done to the Plotzensee machine at some point. It has been mentioned by Fredric that in the interest of speeding up the executions, the bascule with the leather straps was removed and discarded. Were similar modifications done on all type 1854 fallbeils in the Third Reich?

Perhaps there are some photos of the Stadelheim machine in existence that will eventually surface. Until then it will be just a guess.[/quote


I do think it was modified at some point,because Reichart was the executioner who worked with it.And he was the supporter of the quick method.I dont know about the shield, as Reichart covered the condemneds eyes with his hand.( or by an assistant).And Reicharts modifications led to reactions by the RJM.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 05 Mar 2009 00:34

Stadelheim
Part 2



Especially the prison ministers and reverends were becoming overworked with the stadily increasing amount of death sentenced to be served.""Pastor Alt, ordered with the mental care of the condemned,requested to be allowed the help of the Religious ministers of the RJM in order to deal with the condemned.As a reason it was mentioned that by the centralisation of the central execution sites in the counties of Bavaria and the neighbouring areas,it was impossible for the Father of the Stadelheim prison to serve all those sentenced, even when he should be assisted by a replacement.The responsability, given to Dr Alt and Father Hoffman,means a untolerable strain to the clergymen,who are to deal, aside of their main mental occupation,with the psychological preparering of the condemned for his death.Because we are worried that the so involved will break down on their emotional burden,we have requested a interview with those responsable in the RJM.It was promised to us, that Ministers from the outside, were to be employed,insofar they would deal with the condemned of their own administrative areas.""


When the RJM failed to carry out these promises,the Church once more pointed out:""Sofar,it has not happened once,that a condemned did not utter his or her wish to have mental support on his or her last walk.The fact that by the Order of october 15th,1942,the Clergy is not allowed to be present at the executions anymore,is in sofar a relieve, as they do not have to witness the ( in another sense) shortened final procedures of the execution sites anymore.As these procedures only last for 1,5 to 2 minutes,and as the Clergyman has to be present for the whole day with the condemned, the service done for the convict is long enough and the ennerving duty for these last seconds is heavy.""

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by fredric » 05 Mar 2009 07:21

Pete26 wrote:It would be interesting to know if the Stadelheim fallbeil was modified at some point by removing the hinged board with the straps, replacing the bench top, substituting a metal basin for the cloth bucket, and perhaps adding a blade shield. Which was done to the Plotzensee machine at some point. It has been mentioned by Fredric that in the interest of speeding up the executions, the bascule with the leather straps was removed and discarded. Were similar modifications done on all type 1854 fallbeils in the Third Reich?

Perhaps there are some photos of the Stadelheim machine in existence that will eventually surface. Until then it will be just a guess.
Pete, I have assumed the modifications Reichhart claims to have made to the fallbeil as described in Dachs book to be modifications he had made to the Stadelheim machine. He claims the modifications were made in the interest of reducing the suffering of the victim by speeding up the execution. If we compare the times for execution (from moment of turning over the victim to the blade drop) as recorded in Xaver Reichhart's diary to those reported by nephew Johann Reichhart and the RMJ, Johann was setting some real speed records. The Plotzensee modifications puzzled me for a while because I wondered if this was some kind of bastardized Tegel-Mannhardt. We know that Tegel people repaired the fallbeil following its damage due to bombing. I suspect the machine was later moved from Tegel to Moabit and then possibly to Brandenburg where parts were used to build the fallbeil facsimile now displayed at the memorial. Any thoughts?

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by aperson » 05 Mar 2009 13:45

This has been a most interesting thread but I am struck by a simple question. Pardon me if my question betrays my level of ignorance. From this thread I understand 30,000-odd persons were beheaded by the Nazi regime.

Given the Nazi's were executing millions through the activities of both the death camps and the Einsatzgruppen, why bother with beheading as a form of capital punishment?

There have been many posts regarding the relatively lucrative nature of the Scharfichter's employment. Beheading seems to have been a very expensive and (relatively) inefficient way to deal with a perceived and substantial need to deprive a significant number of people of their lives.

Was there a specific reason why those sentenced to death were just not sent off for Sonderbehandlung? I was about to make a comment about train fares but found it to be in too much bad taste for even my self.

Is there a simple explanation?

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by htk » 05 Mar 2009 14:55

Hi

the answer is simple ; executions were legal (i.e death sentences were put down by german courts), and yes they did dispose of criminals (or what where understood as crimals by the then german law) by putting them in the camps (by rules of protective custody).

Its almost a joke, but the germans negociated a deal with the german railway... so people where shipped east a the rate of groups fare (you really did not think that the european railways shipped the yews etc for free ??)

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by fredric » 05 Mar 2009 21:38

htk wrote:Hi

the answer is simple ; executions were legal (i.e death sentences were put down by german courts), and yes they did dispose of criminals (or what where understood as crimals by the then german law) by putting them in the camps (by rules of protective custody).

Its almost a joke, but the germans negociated a deal with the german railway... so people where shipped east a the rate of groups fare (you really did not think that the european railways shipped the yews etc for free ??)
The punishment for a capital crime in the civil courts (People's Court and its antecedants) was beheading. First this was done by hand axe and later, fallbeil. Military Courts punished by firing squad. Special cases (July 22 Plot, Rote Kapelle) resulted in a directive for special, humiliating execution by hanging. The guillotine was not employed for the mass executions of the holocaust which were not the result of court actions. I do have some evidence (a report) that a mobile, spring loaded guillotine was used at concentration camps on homosexual inmates but no absolute proof...this from a book on the treatment of homosexuals by the Nazis. It could be a myth. There is film of a guillotine and beheaded bodies reported to be taken at Majandek Concentration Camp on the Holocaust Museum archives site but I do not think it is accessible on line.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 06 Mar 2009 01:48

There is still a bit of controversy in relation of the amount of death senteces, and the actual number of executions.The official figure of the postwar Bundesjustiz ministry given for the death sentences passed, is "" in excess of 31 000"" of which one author, Koch ,states that 24.559 were actually carried out, eihter by beheading or hanging.
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 06 Mar 2009 17:32

Stadelheim.
Part 3.


Yet in spite of the requests made by the clergymen on behalf of their profession, the RJM stuck to its point of view and refused extra priests to relieve the workload of the Stadelheim priests and reverends.
In november 1942,the execution site Stadelheim, was visited by a group of SS-justice officials in order to take part in an execution.The reason was an allowance by the Fuehrer for SS- and Polizei courts,to have their death sentences carried out by beheading,the execution of which should follow the prescribed practice ordered by the RJM.The Hauptamt SS- Gericht( main SS court) in Muenchen also planned to have their own SS-and Polizei( execution) sites ,to carry out death warrants and prison terms.That is why it was very interesting for the SS judges, to be informed about the procedure of beheading with the Fallbeil.

This information could be most effectively given by taking part in an execution in Muenchen/Stadelheim prison.In july 1944, the Muenchen area was subjected to massive bombing.The Stadelheim prison was hit by the bombing and the resulting damage seriously hampered the execution activity there."" From the present bombing, the Muenchen/Stadelheim prison was again hit hard with incendiaries.Because a number of cells used for the housing of the death candidates were already put out of use by the last bombing attacs,the result is, that the remaining cells were to house 3 condemneds.Because this situation is not meant to last for any time under any circumstances, I request the immediate execution of the death sentences,,or of decisions of pardon,for at least 25 prisoners.I further request that the number of future death candidates in Muenich prison, will be at most 25 persons.I refrained from giving any execution order myself,because I failed the files in most cases,and I did not think the situation was thus that it justified execution without any files and prison records

About the present damage,I can be brief: Burned are the roof of the prison officials building,the womens ward, the laundry.Burned down are the 2 corrugated steel buildings, used to store Wehrmacht goods in,the car repair shops,the church and the workers detail building. In relation to the damage, it is of importance to notice that there is a considerable loss of tools,of glass,furniture and all the reserve vehicles and the destroying of all the wood reserve(100 cubic meters)The service in action of the prison board of directors and the subordinates was exemplary.The prison routine can carry on,exept from the necessary transfer of especially the female inmates.""

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 07 Mar 2009 17:06

Stadelheim.
Part 4.

By the limitation of the capacity to process death victims to 25,it was necessary to transfer the death candidates from other areas such as Neurenberg and Bamberg ,who should be beheaded in Stadelheim, to other execution sites like Halle an der Saale, and Frankfurt am Main.As a result of another heavy bombing attack on Muenich in december 1944,the communication between the Supreme Court in Muenich and the RJM was disrupted,and therefore the issuing of death warrants was seriously blocked:
""Now, after the last attacks, it is impossible to continue work.Damage of an unimaginable scale took place.Muenich is only comparable with Koln in this.People are housed in holes in the ground and the only thing to do is to save what can be saved.Transport is almost impossible to find.The officials dealing with the death warrants,are located now in the outskirts of the city,to watch over the files.At the same time, the Court tries to process and sent the lists of the convicts as usual. It is possible that some lists are already sent, in which case they should be regarded as lost. This time Stadelheim was not hit, and therefore capable to make up the list themselves.They will see to it,that the list is sent to Berlin in the shortest possible time.Directly after receiving the list, it should be given to the Referent for Death sentences,who is to give the decision of the RJM in the matter right away.The execution decisions are to be sent to Muenich without delay.In what way the executions are to be carried out,will be decised later.""

On basis of the situation in Stadelheim,it was considered to move the execution site to the Neurenberg or Bamberg areas,but eventually, the erection of an improvised execution site in Straubing prison was seen as an option. It could not be realized anymore though.The last executions in Stadelheim took place april 1945.The Fallbeil was taken apart and thrown in a nearby river.
1381 people were executed in Muenchen/Stadelheim prison.
This concludes the Stadelheim reports.
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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 07 Mar 2009 17:15

I will continue now with Stuttgart.
As promised, a word by word translation.
Again a long chapter.with interesting information.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by fredric » 08 Mar 2009 05:49

Paul53 wrote:I will continue now with Stuttgart.
As promised, a word by word translation.
Again a long chapter.with interesting information.
Your translation makes available new, valuable information. Thanks Paul!
Regarding the Stadelheim fallbeil, I understand it was dismantled, packed in its crates and taken to the prison in Straubing. It was never unpacked at Straubing. The prison chaplain reported that after the U.S. Army took Straubing, "some U.S. soldiers took the crates and dumped them in the Danube."

Lots of old guillotines in rivers, huh?

I would like to know more about this story. If true, a piece of history (Scholls, etc.) now is in the muddy river bed.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Pete26 » 09 Mar 2009 05:49

fredric wrote:
Regarding the Stadelheim fallbeil, I understand it was dismantled, packed in its crates and taken to the prison in Straubing. It was never unpacked at Straubing. The prison chaplain reported that after the U.S. Army took Straubing, "some U.S. soldiers took the crates and dumped them in the Danube."

Lots of old guillotines in rivers, huh?

I would like to know more about this story. If true, a piece of history (Scholls, etc.) now is in the muddy river bed.
I wonder if anyone has made some serious attempts to try to fish out those fallbeils form the rivers where they were dumped. If buried deep in the silt the metal parts could survive for decades without any appreciable corrosion. Not long ago there was a story about a captured Russian T-34 tank which was driven into a lake at the end of WW II by Germans and sunk there. It stayed in the lake for over 60 years, until someone located it from stories told by villagers, and made arrangements to pull it out. The tank was in almost pristine condition, because it was buried under about 10 ft of silt and muck below the lake bottom. They said that once they cleaned out the fuel tank, lines, injectors, and replaced the engine oil, the old diesel engine fired to life! This is almost unbelievable.

Imagine finding the Stadelheim fallbeil in nicely preserved condition. Of course, the wooden parts would be gone, but the metal parts and the blade are what counts and this fallbeil would make an impressive memorial.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Pete26 » 09 Mar 2009 05:52

fredric wrote:
Regarding the Stadelheim fallbeil, I understand it was dismantled, packed in its crates and taken to the prison in Straubing. It was never unpacked at Straubing. The prison chaplain reported that after the U.S. Army took Straubing, "some U.S. soldiers took the crates and dumped them in the Danube."

Lots of old guillotines in rivers, huh?

I would like to know more about this story. If true, a piece of history (Scholls, etc.) now is in the muddy river bed.
I wonder if anyone has made some serious attempts to try to fish out those fallbeils from the rivers where they were dumped. If buried deep in the silt the metal parts could survive for decades without any appreciable corrosion. Not long ago there was a story about a captured Russian T-34 tank which was driven into a lake at the end of WW II by Germans and sunk there. It stayed in the lake for over 60 years, until someone located it from stories told by villagers, and made arrangements to pull it out. The tank was in almost pristine condition, because it was buried under about 20 ft of silt and muck below the lake bottom. They said that once they cleaned out the fuel tank, lines, injectors, and replaced the engine oil, the old diesel engine fired to life! This is almost unbelievable.

http://www.rense.com/general75/germ2.htm

Imagine finding the Stadelheim fallbeil in nicely preserved condition. Of course, the wooden parts would be gone, but the metal parts and the blade are what counts and this fallbeil would make an impressive memorial.

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 09 Mar 2009 09:34

Yes,unbelievable.As far as I know,the location of the Fallbeil is not known,Info that it was dumped by US troops is new for me by the way.What motive could they have had? BTW, the tank at the Narva front could have been pushed in the lake by Dutch SS troops,as there was a brigade fighting there(and almost annihilated)

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Re: Beheadings in the Third Reich

Post by Paul53 » 09 Mar 2009 21:29

Stuttgart.
Part 1.

From the beginning of Reicharts profession as exectioner,he seems to have encountered more than his fair share of trouble, as he had to deal with obsolete machinery in badly equipped execution sites, and partly, with hostile personell.That is the reason that it frequently came to arguments and mutual complaints of the most varied nature-especially in relation to the executions that were carried out in Stuttgart Prison(capacity 576 male, 78 female).
By lack of space,but also by a certain mental rigidity of some high-ranking Stuttgart execution officials,the General office of Justice (Generalstaatsanwaltschaft) Stuttgart,was unable to operate a closed-off,roofed execution site with a modern,up to date Fallbeil.That is why the execution site Stuttgart existed of an obsolete Fallbeil,that had to be put up in the yard, in the open, every time executions were to take place.(like in Weimar)

Proposals to shorten the Fallbeil by 2 meters so that it could be placed in a room in the building itself,could not,and would not, be granted:""This could only be,if the machine would keep its cutting ability after such an alteration""
The construction of a completely new prison,with an adequate execution provision was planned, but could not be realized on various grounds.
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